Minnesota men at center of ISIL plot get stiff sentences
Guled Ali Omar was sentenced on Wednesday to 35 years in prison for his part in a conspiracy to travel to Syria to fight with the terrorist group Islamic State. Omar was among nine men from Minnesota's large Somali community sentenced this week for their roles in the ISIL conspiracy.
Three men at the center of a plot involving at least a dozen men from Minnesota’s large Somali community who sought to travel to Syria to join the terrorist group Islamic State were handed decades-long prison sentences Wednesday.
Defendants Abdirahman Daud and Mohamed Farah were each sentenced to 30 years in prison, while their co-conspirator Guled Omar received a 35-year prison term.
The trio were the last of nine Minneapolis-area friends who were sentenced this week for their roles in the conspiracy to assist the terror group, which is also known as ISIL or ISIS.
U.S. District Judge Michael Davis handed down the stiffest sentences to Daud, Omar and Farah, who earlier this year took their case to trial and were found guilty by a jury for conspiracy to support a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States. Federal prosecutors, who sought a 40-year prison term for Omar, argued that he was the most influential and deceitful of the young men prosecuted in the conspiracy.
Earlier this week, Davis sentenced six other co-conspirators in the plot to prison terms ranging from time served to 15 years in federal prison.
Before his sentencing Wednesday, Farah told Davis he was not a terrorist.
“Your honor, it's a very good question,” Farah told the judge when asked if he was a terrorist, KARE-TV reported. “What I say to you is the actions I’ve done are what terrorists would do, but that I feel like that I'm not, your honor.”
Mohamed Abdihamid Farah received a 30-year federal prison sentence for his part in a conspiracy to fight for ISIL. Nine young men from the Twin Cities area's large Somali community, including Farah, either pleaded guilty or were convicted as being part of the conspiracy.
He added: "I'm not a terrorist, your honor. But I understand the mistakes I've done and the crimes I've committed.”
Daud, Farah, and Omar were arrested along with three other members of the conspiracy on April 19, 2015.
Prosecutors say Omar first made plans to travel to Syria in May 2014 with an FBI informant via Mexico, but canceled the plans after he was confronted by family members. They said that Omar even withdrew $5,000 from a federal financial aid debit card to pay for the trip.
Farah, along with three other members of the conspiracy, took a Greyhound bus to New York in November 2014 with the intention of flying overseas. Three of the men were stopped at customs and a fourth was taken off a flight bound for Istanbul. Days later, Omar was stopped by authorities as he tried to get on a flight from Minneapolis to San Diego.
Two other men that were part of the group, Abdi Nur and Yusuf Jama, traveled successfully to Syria in 2014 without getting caught. Nur has been charged in the case. Authorities believe Jama was killed in the fighting.
Investigators also believe members of the group reached out to Mohamad Roble, a Minnesota man of Somali decent who authorities believe traveled to Syria in October 2014, to request money to help them travel to the Middle East to join ISIL.
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